What’s the difference between home improvements and home maintenance? What does the average homeowner spend on each? Take a look at the latest numbers.
The general rule of thumb is to spend about 1% to 3% of your home’s value on maintenance each year. So, for a $250,000 home, that comes to about $2,500-$7,500 for annual upkeep. Surprisingly, homeowners only spend an average of $1,105 on annual maintenance, according to the latest State of Home Spending report by HomeAdvisor. At the same time, homeowners are spending $7,560 on home improvements.
Does this mean it really doesn’t cost much to maintain a home, and that we’re all just concerned with having updated bathrooms and kitchens? Perhaps, but one noteworthy finding from the report was that people’s number one reason for undergoing a home improvement project was to replace or repair a problem. Generally speaking, improvements are done to make a home more functional or aesthetically pleasing, not to fix or prevent a problem.
With that in mind, it’s possible that many of these so-called improvement projects were actually large-scale maintenance or repair projects. This distinction helps provide a more balanced picture of the true cost of home maintenance, as opposed to elective projects like kitchen and bath remodels.
Maintenance, Improvements, Emergencies: What’s the Difference?
Maintenance is typically preventative in nature, like getting a routine doctor’s checkup. Think: cleaning gutters, tuning the HVAC system, or performing seasonal landscaping. Non-emergency repairs, such as fixing a gutter or patching a crack in the wall, can also fall under this category.
Improvements aim to change a home’s features or function, and they’re usually more aesthetic in nature. Think: adding a pool or laying hardwood floors. For tax purposes, the IRS classifies improvements as something that adds value to your home, which is important to know if you want to qualify for related tax breaks.*
Emergency spending addresses issues like broken water heaters or hail damage to the roof. These are often influenced by severe weather events, but not always.
Whether you’re in home improvement mode or simply want to keep your home in good working order, it’s important to plan for these costs. Talk to your lender about the financing solutions that may be available to help.